Kyle Anderson, 30, an active American National Basketball Association (NBA) player who chose to naturalize in China, made his first public appearance in a Chinese national team jersey. Anderson is the first active NBA player to naturalize in China. Anderson first stepped on the court with 2 minutes, 38 seconds left in the first quarter at the end of the Trentino Cup four-nation invitational final between China and Italy the previous day in Italy, local Chinese media, including the Gyeomyeon Newspaper, reported on Saturday. He played a total of 20 minutes, scoring 11 points and grabbing six rebounds, but China lost to Italy 79-61.

The game was expected to be an evenly matched contest, as Italy was without a number of current and former NBA players, including center Simone Fontecchio and Nicolo Meli, who were both on the Italian national team. Despite the special measure of naturalization of Anderson, who currently plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves, it was difficult for China, ranked 27th in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), 텍사스홀덤 to overcome the barrier of 10th-ranked Italy.

Anderson’s naturalization has been a constant topic of conversation in China. Anderson has been a regular starter and bench player for Minnesota in the 2022-2023 regular season, averaging 9.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists off the bench. He has been nicknamed “SLOW MO” for his slow on-court movement, but his strengths are in rebounding and defense, and his ability to pass the ball with a wide-open look.

His first official visit to China was in August 2018, when he met relatives in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen and revealed that his Chinese name is Li Kaial. In fact, Li Kaial, whose Chinese name is emblazoned on his uniform, has Chinese ancestral blood: his maternal great-grandfather was a Chinese immigrant to Jamaica, and his maternal grandmother is reportedly of mixed Chinese-Jamaican heritage.

As a result, he had visited his relatives in China several times before his final naturalization last month, and said, “I’m so happy to be representing China in the World Cup. I am very proud and honored to wear the Chinese jersey,” he said. He also revealed his deep interest and love for Chinese culture, recalling his meeting with his Chinese relatives: “Meeting my family on the other side of the world was one of the best moments of my life. Now I want to immerse myself in their culture, and I want to be a part of it.”

As far as we know, it was Yao Ming, the current president of the Chinese Basketball Association, who facilitated Anderson’s Chinese citizenship. “All procedures were carried out in compliance with Chinese law and FIBA regulations,” Yao said, adding, “Anderson is the first naturalized player in Chinese basketball history and will have a good impact on the Chinese national team in the future.”

This year’s FIBA World Cup, which kicks off later this month, is co-hosted by the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan. China is in Group B at the FIBA World Cup alongside Serbia, Puerto Rico, and South Sudan. Anderson is expected to be a key member of China’s World Cup roster alongside Zhou Qi and Zeng Fanbo.

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